UK car registrations reached a 12-year high last month when 83,395 new vehicles were registered, 8.4% up on February 2015. The figures, published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), revealed it was the UK market’s strongest February since 2004.
The spike has been fuelled by demand from private buyers: there was a 22.6% increase in demand for privately purchased new cars compared with February 2015.
Alternatively-fuelled vehicles saw the fastest growth, however, with 2,221 registrations, representing a 19.9% increase in demand over the same month last year, while petrol and diesel vehicles accounted for 81,174 sales, representing growth of 10.7% and 5.6% respectively.
There was a small decrease of 1.4% in demand for fleet cars, but the sector still accounted for majority (53.1%) of new registrations.
The best-selling car of February was the Ford Fiesta, with 4507 new models registered in the month. It comfortably beat the second best-selling car, the Volkswagen Golf, which sold in 2574 units. Other big sellers included the Nissan Qashqai, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus.
Since the year began, a total of 253,073 car registrations have been recorded, up 4.7% on the same period from the year before. The fastest growing category so far this year is the alternatively-fuelled sector, which has experienced a 28.6% increase; petrol-engined car sales increased by 5.9% and diesel sales were up 2.2%.
The February results continue on from a strong January, during which sales were up 2.9% on the year before.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “February is typically one of the quietest months of the year, ahead of March’s plate change, but this positive performance is encouraging and puts the sector in a good position for the coming 12 months.”
The announcement comes just 24 hours after the SMMT held a press conference with UK motor industry leaders in support of Britain remaining in Europe.